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Lecture / Reading

October 18, 2023

Critical Reading and the Struggle Against Pseudoscience: The rise and fall of a Hopewell doomsday narrative

Kettler Hall, Room G46

Anthropology Club Lunchtime Lecture Series Presents: Dr. Kevin Nolan, Director and Senior Archaeologist, Applied Anthropology Laboratories from Ball State University

Dr. Nolan's talk focuses on a recently retracted 2022 Scientific Reports article by Tankersly and colleagues in which they claim a cosmic airburst over modern-day Cincinnati, Ohio in the 3rd or 4th century CE led to widespread cataclysm and subsequent decline of the Hopewell culture. Nolan and colleagues (2023) and other scholars suggest that Tankersley et al. misrepresent primary sources, conflate discrete archaeological contexts, improperly use chronological analyses, insufficiently describe methods, and inaccurately characterize the source of supposed extraterrestrial materials to support an incorrect conclusion. Dr. Nolan will use this as a case study in dismantling poor scholarship, the value of critical reading, and by way of counterpoint, a lesson on how to write a scholarly paper that adequately supports the argument it presents. Dr. Nolan argues that arming students with confidence in dissecting these types of things will benefit the public consumption of science more generally.

Dr. Nolan invites attendees to read or skim Tankersly et al.'s 2022 paper prior to the talk when possible:

Nolan and colleagues' (2023) rebuttal can be found here:

For questions on the talk or about the Club, please contact Forrest Rommel ([email protected])